February 19th, 2009


2,500 languages threatened with extinction: UNESCO

by Amer Ouali

PARIS (AFP) – The world has lost Manx in the Isle of Man, Ubykh in Turkey and last year Alaska's last native speaker of Eyak, Marie Smith Jones, died, taking the aboriginal language with her.

Of the 6,900 languages spoken in the world, some 2,500 are endangered, the UN's cultural agency UNESCO said Thursday as it released its latest atlas of world languages.

That represents a multi-fold increase from the last atlas compiled in 2001 which listed 900 languages threatened with extinction.

But experts say this is more the result of better research tools than of an increasingly dire situation for the world's many tongues.

Still there is disheartening news.

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